Do you drink coffee that's too fresh?
At first glance, this question may seem a little puzzling. Normally, we want to consume our food as fresh as possible. Shouldn't the same logic apply to coffee? After all, don't roasters display the roasting date on the packaging to assure us that the beans were about to grind are absolutely fresh?
Obviously, you want to drink fresh coffee, but you don't want to drink it too fresh. When coffee is roasted, carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor form inside the bean. Some of these gases are suddenly expelled during roasting: this is called the first crack. You can literally hear the gas coming out of the bean, the sound resembling that of popcorn. This process continues once the beans have been removed from the kiln. The gas contained in the kernels interferes with the extraction process. When ground coffee comes into contact with hot water, it expels gas very quickly, creating bubbles in the coffee bed, which in turn create channels. Channels are holes that form in the coffee bed. Water, always looking for the easiest way through the coffee bed, will pass through these channels, over-extracting the coffee in these areas and under-extracting the rest of the bed. The result is a coffee that is both acidic (under-extracted) and bitter (over-extracted), instead of a good, well-balanced coffee.
So how long do you have to wait? That depends on a number of factors: origin, degree of roast and type of extraction are just a few. Generally speaking, we say you need to wait 7 to 10 days for the coffee to reach its full potential. It will have expelled most of its CO2, but there will still be some left, which is very important for freshness. It's this gas that is largely responsible for the famous crema so dear to espresso drinkers. You know us, at Jungle we're all about the details, so let's get on with it! Degassing is crucial to the preparation of espressos and, to a lesser extent, filter coffees. In fact, when preparing a filter coffee, the coffee is in contact with a greater quantity of water for a longer period of time, which makes it easier to mitigate the effects of channeling and thus prevent poor extraction. When preparing espresso, everything happens quickly. The coffee is only in contact with the water for a few seconds, and the pressure exerted on the coffee bed is intense (generally around 9 bar on professional machines, often much higher on home machines). This high pressure is already conducive to channelling, which is compounded by the rapid and powerful expulsion of CO2, contributing to the appearance of canals. As a preventive measure, coffee beans intended for espresso can easily be left in their bags for 14 days. It will not lose freshness and will gain in stability.
For some coffees, you can wait even longer. On this subject, I'd like to share a rare personal anecdote... One day, I wanted to spoil myself with an excellent coffee. So I splurged and bought the best Ethiopian available from Gardelli, a world-renowned Italian roaster. A very small, very expensive bag. No problem, I come home with a little pink bag in hand, all excited at the idea of tasting this coffee with my favorite method, the Chemex (yes, old school like that). I open the bag: it's an explosion of blueberries, berries, acidity, in short, mouth-watering! My kettle is at the right temperature, the coffee is ground and I begin the extraction. All the way through, the smell is divine. 3 minutes and 30 seconds later, it's ready. I prepare my cup, put it to my lips, the aroma promises a thousand delights, finally take my first sip and... nothing. Not a subtle taste, not a bad coffee, nothing. Hot, brown, flat water. I wait for the coffee to cool, it's always better lukewarm. Still nothing. I tell myself I'm probably the problem, there's no way this coffee isn't good. I start the whole process again, still nothing. Disappointed, I close the bag and "garoche" it at the back of my coffee cupboard. Never mind, I'll drink something else. A month later, I find myself in an unusual situation: no more coffee to drink. I don't know if you're like me, but if I don't drink coffee during the day, I get a headache (well, maybe that's a problem, you might say, but let's save that question for another time). I don't feel like leaving the house, so I turn to my last option: I pick up Gardelli's bag. I tell myself that if worse comes to worst, I'll just drink it for the caffeine to relieve my headache. I prepare the coffee, which always smells sublime. When it's time for the first sip, surprise, it's an absolute delight! One of the best cups I've ever had in my life. The kind of coffee that instantly transports us to the other side of the world, the kind of cup that reminds us why we love coffee so much.
I started telling this anecdote to friends in the industry, who confirmed that Ethiopian coffees often take a long time to develop in the bag, and that a month is quite usual. The same phenomenon occurs with our Ana Carolina coffee, the "peach candy". You need to give it a good three weeks after roasting to fully appreciate it. It's a bit counter-intuitive, but that's part of the magic of coffee. Sometimes it's good to take your time. So why do some roasters insist on drinking coffee fresh? To get you to buy more often, quite simply. Regular income is the lifeblood of coffee roasters. So it's to our advantage that our coffee is bought and drunk quickly, to keep you coming back for more. At Jungle, what we love even more than money is coffee. Above all, we want you to have the best possible experience. That's why we never hesitate to recommend that you wait before drinking our coffee, to let it rest a little so that it can give you all its best. It's our way of respecting both the work of the producers who provide us with these delights and you, our customer, who pay for the best possible coffee.